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InterMune stock jumps on suitor claims

pharmafile | August 14, 2014 | News story | Sales and Marketing Boehringer, Esbriet, FDA, GSK, IPF, InterMune 

Riding high of the success of its new lung drug Esbriet, InterMune has become the focus of some serious takeover rumours.

In fact shares in InterMune rocketed up by 20% yesterday before settling to 14% at close, as shareholders prepare for a potential offer in the coming weeks according to close sources speaking to Bloomberg.

Although not said to be specifically courting any advances, InterMune is working with financial advisers to assess its options, according to the sources. The company’s current market value is estimated to be $5.62 billion.

One person familiar with the situation suggests that French giant Sanofi has shown the most interest in a deal with the biotech company, while GSK tells the Financial Times it has not made any attempts on the firm. Roche and Actelion are also said to be interested parties.

The speculation of a takeover has been growing after InterMune reported a larger than anticipated second-quarter loss.

But despite the drop in revenue, the future looks bright for the biotech firm as its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) therapy Esbriet (pirfenidone) saw sales of $35.7 million in the three months ending June, versus $14.4 million the year before.

The company is focussed on the deadly lung scarring disease IPF, which affects 50,000-70,000 people in the US and between 80,000 and 110,000 in Europe.

Esbriet has been approved in Europe and Canada, and InterMune plans to file for US regulatory approval this year after new data showed it can help patients breathe more easily.

Although tipped to be a blockbuster, thanks to its high cost and first-in-class status to treat the rare condition, Esbriet’s inability to get an early FDA approval has hampered its immediate prospects.

There is also now the threat of competition in the shape of Boehringer’s IPF drug Inpulsis (nintedanib), which is yet to gain approval in any market, but has been accepted for an accelerated review from both the FDA and the EMA, meaning it could be available from early 2015.

Ben Adams

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